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Spring is in the air, which usually marks the return of the annual art show. School-based art events can be a significant opportunity for art education advocacy and promote funding or future involvement. Whether this year’s art show is in-person, all-digital, or you are planning for the future, one of the most important considerations is how best to engage and invite the community.
Without their knowledge of and enthusiasm for the event, how can they be supportive? That is where marketing comes in. With all of the matting, hanging, and creative planning, art educators must consider how best to market their art event.
Professional art exhibitions often use full-color, glossy postcards to share the details of their event. Look for a great deal with an online printer to get professional postcards printed.
Send cards home with students, district administrators, and local community members. Don’t forget to include the school address if you send the cards to people outside the school setting.
Use design software to create a page of paper bracelets stating the “Art Show Tonight!” with the event’s details. Copy the strips, and cut them out so students can add color. Tape the strips around students’ wrists. Now, they are sporting some wearable marketing to take home to their families. If your event is digital, be sure to include when the event goes live and the web address.
Yes, it is an art show or an art exhibition. But what about rebranding with a more school-specific name? An Arts Festival, the Festival of Fine Arts (FOFA for short), or a Spring Celebration might be fitting for the time of year. Taking the opportunity to rename or create a logo used annually could make it stand out from the rest of the school events.
Do you have a professional social media account or one specifically for your art room? Use it to share videos, images, and information about why someone should attend or log in to the art exhibition. If other teachers in the building have school-based social media accounts, ask if they will share your news with families. Email the staff an image and accompanying text exactly the way you’d like it to be shared. Multiple reminders are never too much. Someone may have missed the previous post, which is a way to make sure everyone is informed.
Video announcements have become more necessary during the pandemic and will certainly stick around in the future. Share the videos on social media, the school website, or email. There are countless options. If you do not like being in front of a camera, engage student actors, making sure you check privacy protocols at your school. Or, ask an enthusiastic teacher in your building who welcomes being in front of the camera to be your video talent.
Sometimes, it is as simple as utilizing the already established means of communication within your school environment. Do you have a digital newsletter that comes from the front office via a list-serve email? How about the all-school phone call or a remind texting service? There might be a front marquee with the moveable letters. Does the PTA have a separate email list? Make a list of all of the easy-wins for communication about your art event.
Send home a note of congratulations with students throughout the year when their artwork is held back to be displayed. Your note could include an invitation to attend the art exhibition to see the work on display later.
This way, there is continued communication about the student’s work and how families can see the art.
Consider creating certificates of achievement for students to congratulate them on their work on display.
These can be generic, without names, and provided to all students. The award serves as a reminder and may entice parents to attend or log in to see the celebrated work.
The week of your event, get out the chalk to create a colorful advertisement on the school sidewalks. You could do this chalk work yourself or invite a team of students or volunteers to get involved. Just be sure to include the essential information and lots of color to stop passersby in their tracks. If you do this step too early, your beautiful work may be forgotten or erased. Chalking the week of the event will keep it fresh in all ways.
To advertise the event, make sturdy wood signs that include space for updating the dates each year. These signs could go in front of the school or be placed in neighborhoods.
Order yard signs, like those used for elections, and reuse them each year. There can be a space to add a laminated strip with the year’s specific details. Supportive families, PTA leadership, or staff who live in the community can display the signs in their yards.
As art show season approaches, don’t forget to investigate all the ways you can get the word out. Whether your art exhibition will be in-person or digital—or even if you are holding off a year—these ten tips can help more effectively market your event. Use them to help spread the word about the impact your program has on students and to showcase and celebrate their incredible work!
What communication systems are already in place that you can tap into for art show marketing?
Where in your budget can you set aside funds specifically for art show marketing?
Who in the school can become a champion for the art event along with you? How can they support marketing the event?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors from across the nation and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University or any of its academic offerings.